3. Rocky Takes Shape
Despite limited writing experience, Stallone's idea for Rocky fueled his imagination and got him through some truly tough times.
"I used to sit in this little apartment - well, it was a room, so small that I was able to open up the door and close the window at the same time while sitting on the bed. It was eight feet by nine feet!
"But the great thing about that room was that there was really very little distraction, so I would sit there, propped up on the bed and go out with my pen and big legal pad and just start writing these stories.
"Most of them were really very trivial, but there was something about the process of unrealized dreams, because it's one of the most enduring stories.
"The more I thought about this kind of street-like character who is totally misrepresented by the way he looks, the way he walks down the street is enough for people to dismiss him as a bully or a dark kind of character and I thought that was interesting.
"That festered in my mind for quite a while until I decided to come to California and I moved to the Valley and things weren't going well - as a matter of fact I had to go out and try to sell my dog, Butkus, since it was either that or he wouldn't be fed around the house.
"After I saw the Wepner fight, I said, 'that is what I needed as a catalyst for a story about a man who will take one shot.
"It was one of those writing frenzies and three days later, I came up with the script of Rocky. It was by no means a finished piece of material - it was probably about 90 pages and maybe 10% of it remained in the final draft, but it was done.
"Originally, Rocky the film was very dark, because in films at that time, the antihero was the favoured kind of character. I wrote him to be like that, very dark and he throws the fight at the end, plus Mickey turns out to be this very angry, racist man and Rocky didn't want to be involved in that world."
Stallone had one critic early on who would help shape what Balboa would eventually become - someone close.
"I remember showing it to my wife and she said, 'Oh, I don't like it, Rocky seems so nasty, he does this and that.' I'm made him unrepentant.
So I went back and re-wrote and re-wrote."
But it would take a little luck to get things moving…
Next: First Break